Cardinals fall to Naturals in record 20 inning game

It took 20 innings, but the Northwest Arkansas Naturals edged the Springfield Cardinals, 5-4, before 5,938 fans at Hammons Field on Saturday night.  

The 20 innings, as well as the game time of 5:38, both set Springfield Cardinals records for longest game played in organizational history. The Cardinals previous records were 14 innings (four times) and 5:27 (August 11, 2005 vs. Midland, 13 innings). It is the 20th game in Texas League history to go at least 20 innings.  

After Springfield RHP Scott McGregor and Northwest Arkansas RHP Yordano Ventura alternated three scoreless innings apiece, the Naturals cracked the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth. With one on and one down, 1B Matt Fields struck with a two-run homer to make it 2-0.

Northwest Arkansas (13-20) added to the advantage in the top of the sixth inning. After McGregor retired the frame's first two batters, CF Yem Prades drove a solo homer over the left field fence for the 3-0 lead.

Springfield (17-16) raced back into the ballgame with a rally in the bottom of the eighth. With two on and one away, 3B Ruben Gotay hammered a game-tying, three-run homer over the right field wall, squaring the score at 3-3.

The tie remained intact throughout the next 11 innings, during which both teams sent a pair of position players to the mound. Naturals LF/RHP Mitch Canham and Springfield 2B/RHP Vance Albitz both dealt three scoreless relief innings.

1B/RHP Matt Fields (W, 1-0) then took over on the mound in the 18th and kept the game tied until the Naturals scored against 3B/RHP Ruben Gotay (L, 0-1) in the top of the 20th. With one on and two down, C Juan Graterol knocked a two-run homer to left field, lifting Northwest Arkansas into the 5-3 advantage.

The Cardinals refused to go down quietly, rallying against Fields in the bottom of the 20th. With one away, LF/1B Chris Swauger and LF Mike O'Neill drove consecutive singles to put runners at the corners. DH/2B Starlin Rodriguez then placed an RBI single to shallow center field, scoring Swauger to make it just a one-run deficit. However, Fields retired the next two Cardinals and the Naturals hung on for the 5-4 win in 20 innings.

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